Auggie’s unusual appearance and suffering under the knife have made him a gentle, kind, and mostly self-aware kid. He faces constant bullying at the hands of a classmate and his friends, but because of his kindness and self-deprecating sense of humor, other students gradually begin to befriend him. As they look past his outward appearance, they can see the wonder of having Auggie in their lives and he can see the wonder that he really is.
Legally, the federal civil suit the mother and the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation recently filed against Mercer County schools is clear-cut: It is unconstitutional to preach the Bible to students in school. But there’s another pressing reason to keep these classes out of public schools: to prevent ostracizing of religious minorities and atheists.
I carry a purple purse. I actually bought it three years ago to treat myself to something new. Many women have complimented it, honestly to my surprise. Not that the purse is atrocious, but it does not carry a Gucci, Michael Kors, Coach, Chanel or any other label. It is just a purple purse that fits me and holds my essentials, and sometimes those of my children. Until recently I had not given any second thought to having a purse the color of Barney. Sorry I could not resist.
While reading all of the commentary about professional athletes and abuse, as if they are the only people who offend, I came across a public service announcement for the Purple Purse Campaign. What an a-ha moment. Finally someone gets it. It is one thing to give all of the stats blasting that one out of four women experience domestic violence or that twenty people per minute, men and women, are victims of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. It is astoundingly painful to know an estimated three women die each day because a “loved one” could not control himself. The facts are. The truth is.
However, as the Purple Purse Campaign purports, domestic violence is also withholding money or limiting financial freedom. It is verbal assault. Domestic violence is hindering access to family and social circles. Intimacy partner violence involves humiliating the victim. It is harassing people via social media, texting, phone calls or emails. Domestic violence or intimate partner violence can be a physical, mental, financial, emotional, sexual or psychological act. In other words, domestic violence is bullying.
Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, Prabhdeep Suri has been the only Sikh in his class, and it’s been obvious.
Like all Sikh boys, he wore a patka, a head covering for his uncut hair that’s worn out of respect for his gurus. To his classmates, the patka was a license to stare, taunt, isolate, punch, and kick him. It was a target to knock off his head. It was the reason they called him “Osama bin Laden” and “terrorist.”
“He came home crying three days out of five,” his mother, Harpreet Suri remembered. “They were taking his patka off almost every day.”
Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee's latest segment for the late-night comedy show took on the perception in some religious circles that Christians are the ones being targeted by the LGBT community. She sits down with pastor and Christian radio-show host Matt Slick to explore his fear of infringement of his religious liberty.
"At what point has your right to express yourself been infringed upon?" Bee asked in the interview.
Slick's response: "I don't know if it's going to happen, but I'm concerned about it. I have a radio show. I'm just concerned about any oppression that may come, that people might say, 'Matt, you can say that on the radio, that homosexuality is a sin.'"
Last year, 506 murders happened in the city of Chicago — the majority of them in black communities. Similar rates of violence swept through places like Philadelphia, Camden, N.J., New Orleans, and the list could go on and on. I have in my life begun to declare myself a pacifist. I have made this change because I think, as a black man, the only recourse for me is to try and stop violence that happens in so many black communities. Turning the other cheek, responding with a gentle answer, forgiving a misunderstanding: these are the paths to recovery in my neighborhood.
The “if someone hits you, hit them back” mentality is destroying black men at an alarming rate. Dads, teach your boys to talk it over, look the other way, or keep walking when things begin to escalate.
Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. dropped by 13 percent in 2011, according to a report released Nov. 1 by the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks assaults and other attacks on Jews.
There were 1,080 incidents against Jews last year, according to the ADL, the lowest tallied by the non-profit civil rights group in two decades.
“It is encouraging that over the past five or six years we have seen a consistent decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents across the country and that the numbers are now at a historic low,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL's national director.
Twenty-five cents was all it took. It was like magic. The punches stopped and for the first time in a long time I felt what it feels like to be normal — to be safe, to be lovable, to live without a target on my back.
But even the transaction was not a guarantee of love.
Though I continued to bring quarters that fed the monster’s craving every day, after a while even their magic stopped working.
The torture started again on the playground after school.
I walked across the schoolyard and headed home, which was only a half-block away from the school. Suddenly I was surrounded by Alice and her goons. She taunted me and pushed me, then punched me. It didn’t stop. It became a ritual.
Soon, every day, armed with only my book bag, I would duck my head and make a beeline for my house and Miss Burton (the babysitter). And every day Alice and her bulldogs would hunt me down and taunt me and push me and punch me as I walked the looooong half-block home.
Mom asked one day what I was doing with all those quarters. When I told her, she marched up to the school and had it out with Miss Williams and then my principal. I was only in that school for one year.
Alice wasn’t the last bully I had to survive. There were others. There was Tracy in the fifth grade and two white girls whose names I’ve blocked out in eighth grade. For a long time I thought I must have an invisible target attached to my back.
One of my current writing projects has me spending a lot of time in the Gospels, especially the Gospel according to Luke, which may be my favorite Gospel (are we allowed to have favorites?) not least because of its astonishing reversals:
It's the Gospel where a poor, uneducated girl — Mary — has more faith than an educated, aged, male priest--Zechariah.
It's the Gospel where a widow's two pennies amounts to more in God's eyes than fat donations from wealthy pockets.
It's the Gospel where Jesus says: “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind." Invite the people who can't pay you back, because that is the where the real reward is.
Yes, Luke's Gospel is a Gospel that proclaims love for the marginalized. And out of the four, Luke has the most meals.
(It's the Gospel in which Jesus is accused, among other things, of being a "glutton and a drunkard," who eats with "tax collectors and 'sinners.'")
In other words, it's the Gospel that Mixes It Up At Lunch.
I try to teach in the present. With Billy, though, I found myself thinking about the future. Will middle school be a challenge for him? Will he be an outcast in high school? Or a target for bullies?
I wondered what contributions he might make to society as an adult. Would he start a revolution in the art world?
If his peers constantly slap their hands down and say there's no room for him, how will he react? Will he become a part of what author Alexandra Robbins calls the "cafeteria fringe,” those people who are not a part of the school's or society's in-crowd? Because he seems different, will he be labeled “geek,” “nerd” or “weirdo?”
As a teacher I want to help him overcome. But what can I do?
When Sally tells Jimmy that he’s going to hell for believing in a false religion, is that Sally exercising her First Amendment right to free expression, or is that Billy getting bullied?
A broad coalition of educators and religious groups – from the National Association of Evangelicals to the National School Boards Association – on Tuesday (May 22) endorsed a new pamphlet to help teachers tackle such thorny questions.
Authored chiefly by the American Jewish Committee, “Harassment, Bullying and Free Expression: Guidelines for Free and Safe Public Schools,” contains 11 pages of advice on balancing school safety and religious freedom.
I wouldn’t normally think to write a blog about bullying, but this time it’s personal.
Last week a beautiful mixed-race Asian-Latino boy named Teddy Molina committed suicide in Corpus Christi, Texas because of bullying. I take it really personal because I am also Asian-Latino, and I experienced mixed-raced racial taunts as a child. I especially take it personal because my son and daughter are mixed race and I must make sure that this never happens to them.
Teddy was a freshman in high school and he had experienced intense racial bullying since junior high. His parents lodged more than a dozen complaints to his high school—all to no avail. The “wolf pack”—a group formed by a handful of athletes—continued to bully Teddy. It got so bad that he was pulled out of school in March.
This bullying caused Teddy’s suicide.
Tyler Long, 17, hanged himself more than two years ago after being teased and bullied. He joined countless others and more since who have been pushed to the limit and taken their own lives. Bully, which premieres Friday, chronicles the lives of Long’s family, along with five other children tormented on a daily basis.
Bully shows students who are mocked for their sexual orientation both by peers and teachers; they endure beatings on school buses; they have profanities hurled at them—which earned the movie an “R” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America.
MPAA’s decision sparked protests and petitions from anti-bullying groups and eventually made the Weinstein Company, which produced the documentary, release the film unrated.
I watched the film. Bully disturbs me on a basic human level—but not because of the profanity (which is probably fairly mild to the average teen). Bully disturbs me because it is real life. It disturbs me because I have younger brothers the same age as some of the students in the film. It disturbs me because it’s happening in the lives of our children all around the country.
Seventy-five years of Santa-school, celebrating National Sandwich Day, Muslims save Jewish bakery, remembering the inventor of the theremin, Cameron Crowe's new film, Lady Gaga's new anti-bullying project, and a new song from Mumford & Sons.